Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Reads of 2016

2016 has been kind of a lackluster reading year for me. Personally 2016 has been pretty good; we bought a condo, I got a job in a local bookstore and I've messed around with background acting and even shown up on TV once or twice. But reading? Meh. I've been reading at a slower pace than usual and loving less than usual of what I've been reading. Which is not to say I haven't found some favorites. In no particular order here they are. Links are to my reviews.

2016 Releases I Loved 

Baba Dunja's Last Love. Alina Bronsky's latest is her best since Broken Glass Park, a bittersweet story about a Chernobyl survivor and her black-comedic search for meaning, dignity and family.

The City of Mirrors, Justin Cronin's finale to his show-stopping trilogy is a fitting ending to a series destined to be a classic.

The Pirate, Jon Gnarr's coming of age story set in 1970s Iceland is funny, heartbreaking and wonderful.

Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart, Claire Harman's page-turning and fascinating biography of one of my favorite writers is now one of my favorite books.

Best of the Backlist

The Crossroads/As God Commands, by Niccolo Ammaniti is an amazing, emotionally shattering read.

The Passage, is the first book in Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy and one of my all-time favorites.

The Sparrow. Mary Doria Russell's literary-science fiction epic is a tough book but worth the effort.

Chocolates for Breakfast, by Pamela Moore, is a better-than-expected coming of age story set in California and New York.

Places of My Infancy, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa is beautiful and sweet memoir about his privileged Sicilian childhood.

A Man of Good Hope, by Jonny Steinberg, is a tremendous piece of journalism and biography set in Africa and the United States and essential reading in my opinion,

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith, kept me turning the pages like mad and marveling at her brilliant prose and grasp of the psychology of madness.

Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.G. Gwynne, is an immersive if too-short history of the fall of the Comanches and their charismatic standard-bearer, Quanah Parker.

So there, that gets me to twelve favorites in no particular order. What were your favorites of 2016? And what are you looking forward to reading next?


Anonymous said...

Oh YEA! Wasn't the slow creepy build of creepiness of The Talented Mr. Ripley amazing? :)

Esther said...

I enjoyed two very funny novels: Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette? and Nina Stibbe's Man at the Helm.

I also really liked Peter Stark's Astoria, about John Jacob Astor's failed attempt to establish a permanent American fur-trading post on the Oregon coast.

And I read Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet. Overall, the story was really absorbing, although I read some parts quicker than others. And there were way too many characters. I kept referring to the glossary at the beginning of the book.

I haven't gotten to the Bruce Springsteen memoir yet, so I'll read that in 2017.

Literary Feline said...

I do not often read biographies, but I really must check out Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart. I am glad to see you liked it so much, Marie. The Passage trilogy is on my to read list and one of these days I may actually get to it. Same goes for The Sparrow. I actually tried to read The Sparrow once, but it wasn't good timing on my part.

I need to put my list of favorites together for the year still. It's always fun to look back over my reading for the year. I read less, but I think I had a good reading year overall. I'm sorry to hear yours wasn't better. I have enjoyed hearing about your insight into being a background actor. Such fun!

Here's to 2017 and hopefully many wonderful books.

Grad said...

The Talented Mr. Ripley is definitely on my list for 2017! And the Justin Cronin.